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Why your CIC should set up a membership

I am absolutely passionate about memberships and I am convinced all Community Interest Companies should have one, and some LTD’s.

Let me first convince you and second tell you how to set it up. 

What's a membership? 

A membership is a business model where people sign up and you deliver some kind of service or perks. 

A free membership might involve a free sign up and access to a blog or a monthly newsletter or Facebook group. 

A paid membership could have a few tiers. Low tiers could include exclusive access to videos, podcasts, resources, group zoom calls, and in person groups. 

A higher paid tier could include; 1 to 1 coaching, posting a physical product, exclusive events. 

Why have any membership? 

Starting a membership was always a goal of mine. I have known for a long time it's a winning business model. The world shifted to subscriptions around a decade ago. There are loads you likely use. Netflix, hello fresh, your gym membership. The recurring income business model is obviously better than chasing new sales. 

I could never think of an idea for one. Until I started the CIC Tribe. It has changed everything. Here are a few benefits I have noticed. 

  1. Recurring income. It's nice to know each month I will have a chunk of income I can expect. Having to chase a fresh new month of new sales is exhausting and not guaranteed. So I love that I know I already have a chunk I can expect. 

  2. I built a community of people. This relationship with a group of people has been a blessing. The community talks to and helps each other. This makes me feel less alone in my business and they feel less alone in their cic journey. It's grown into a real tribe 🫶🏼

  3. I have an established customer base that will continue to make purchases or join my events. This gives more income streams. 

  4. I have a community to get feedback from. 

  5. It gives me more time for other things as there is a lot of automation. I can do a group zoom or webinar rather than all 1 to 1. This is time efficient. 

  6. Easy to serve my community as they are in one place on my CIC tribe app. I can keep giving value in videos or blogs etc. all at my fingertips on my app. 

I have three membership levels; 

  1. Facebook group and YouTube subscription. Free email sign up on my website for my blog and email list.

  2. CIC Tribe £10.99 access to my branded app, exclusive website page I call my membership zone. These include masterclass videos, a forum they can chat to each other in, downloadable resources and events they can rsvp to. I do a couple of group zooms they can join to ask my questions or I also give tips and training. 

  3. VIP membership £59 includes the above but adds 1 to 1 mentoring in a monthly call and my whatsapp number. This gives them me on tap to guide with all kinds of CIC development. It's a massive boost for a new CIC in unknown waters to get help with applying for grants, running projects, evaluating them etc. 

The first two are unlimited. The first free level I can use to advertise to. It's a big email list of over 800 people and I only started a year ago! My YouTube is 2000 subs in a year which is insane and has been the base of my entire business. I have never had to use paid ads because my YouTube converts so well.

The CIC tribe is great as it is unlimited in how many can join and gives me a good £500pm income and I only have to do a couple group zooms I enjoy. I am working on growing it and the masterclasses and training webinars. I think it has scope to be much bigger. 

The VIP CIC I actually had to cap and not let new people join, as it was so popular and I can only give so many people group calls. I just opened it again for a short time. I cap at 40 members. This gives over £2k which is a huge chunk. This has been amazing as I have built a great relationship with my members. Some I consider friends now. I have had huge success getting them funding and mentoring them though good and bad days everyone has on their CIC journey. 

So all in all I think it's a great business model for any CIC or LTD.

There are many variations of what you could offer. 

How would this membership model help your CIC? 

I think it has two huge benefits;

  1. It establishes a community you will serve. Brings people together in a community you have created. They are there to network, gain support, you can gain feedback from them. Ask them to volunteer and help out. Promote your events to. This all looks amazing to funders as well. Remember they require you have have an established relationship with your community and want to know numbers!

  2. Recurring income. Even if it's just £500 per month that's great! Pays bills, looks great on a grant application gives you a base to your business that you can grow and help you be sustainable. 

How to set up a membership; 

  1. Start with a free level. Facebook groups are great. Subscription to a blog or mailing list. 

  2. Set two or three paid tiers. Plan what you will offer them. 

  3. Set up the subscription on a platform. I use my Wix website for £350pa and upgraded to get a branded app for £1200pa. Patrion is free to set up but takes a cut. YouTube has memberships but your channel needs to get over 1k subs and 4K viewing hours. Mines just hit that. Now I can set up a paid membership option with exclusive videos. 

  4. Promote, encourage everyone your cic engages with onto the free level. Then offers a solution they need to get them to upgrade to paid level.

  5. Reduce cancellations by being consistent with service but do not overwhelm them that's the leading cause for cancellation. 

  6. Decide if you want the paid options open all the time (evergreen model) or if you only open a couple times a year for a couple weeks (launch model). The later can be effective in gaining numbers though creating a sense of urgency. 

I hope this helps you get some ideas for how to gain extra income and establish a community. 

Let me know in the comments what you think? 

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